Can you use it?

by Fred Showker

Intellectual Property Rights at risk on the WebIf it's there, can you use it? While I was putting together the article for Pamela Wells this month, that question presented itself once again. Searching for images of Pamela's writings and products I turned up an interesting set of images that immediately underscored the issues of SOPA and PIPA.

quoting Fred Showker Here comes another of those web dilemmas : who is right? The guys who want to protect U.S. ingenuity and creativity from being ripped off by counterfeiters … or the liberal press and the web sites who stand to make the most money from online pirating? It’s a tough decision. Are you for or against SOPA and PIPA? Wait, stop! First look at some facts... end Fred Showker quote

All the protests and hoop-lah have since died down, but the nagging issues of intellectual property rights persist. If you follow some of the designers like Jeff Fisher on Facebook, you see some are very passionate about preserving intellectual property. Others are bantering about "free internet" and "free speech" -- even though it would be difficult, if not impossible, to have both.

The Safenetting article quoted above approached the issue from the viewpoint of security and cyber crime. When something is totally unregulated, it becomes easy prey for exploitation and crime -- as is the internet. If you weren't required to register and have a title for your vehicle, what would happen? If you weren't required to have a driving permit which undeniably identifies you, what would happen?

So, while doing some image searches for the term Goddess, one of Pamela's product keywords, I turned up these two images -- having nothing to do with Pamela Wells -- but quite intriguing nonetheless.

See : before and after

Neither are identified, but it's fairly obvious that someone, a fan of Kristin Kreuk no doubt, found the first image titled "Goddess of Darkness" and put Kristin's head on the Goddess' body. They added a few orbs and those circle devices in the background, but close investigation of the actual detail proves it is indeed the same piece of art.

Kristin Kreuk as AvatarI did another search in Google, this time for Kristin-Kreuk, attempting to find the face or head that they used. Low and behold, I turned up a number of other knock-offs, including this one from Deviantart that attempts to make Kristin into an Avatar! (ella-grace)

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, while doing national workshops and seminars on graphic design and desktop publishing I had a segment on digital design online. Quite often I was asked about putting art online and my hard and fast rule was:

quoting Never put anything online unless you are prepared to walk away from it -- because if it's any good at all, it will be ripped off! If it is precious to you, either watermark it so it cannot be used, or don't put it up. Period. end quote

Today, years later, we see some things never change ... just people's attitudes. If it's there, with no identification or credit, does that mean you can use it?

Food for thought ... thanks for reading

Fred Showker

Don't forget ... we encourage you to share your discoveries with other readers. Just send and email, contribute your own article, join the Design Cafe forums, or follow DTG on Facebook!

27th Anniversary for DTG Magazine